An Epic Year of Travel: 2017 In Review

Kruger

I can’t believe we are already at the end of another year! And though we are already working on some super epic travel plans for 2018 (including a month-long stay in an obscure Asian country and an anniversary trip to a beautiful European island), we first wanted to take time to reflect on the past 12 months.

In 2017 we traveled in 6 countries on 3 continents, slept in 24 places, visited 23 cities, took 4 overnight flights, and flew 40,915 miles on 5 airlines.

Looking back, I think 2017 was our best travel year to date. Here are some of the highlights:

Orlando, FL

Disney World Marathon

Our first trip of the year was to the Happiest Place on Earth to run a marathon. And while I discovered that Disney World isn’t quite as happy on mile 23 when I’m slathering bucket-loads of biofreeze on my calves and chaffing in places I’d prefer not to disclose, running through Cinderella’s Castle at sunrise was a bit magical.

Further Reading: Running the Walt Disney World Marathon

Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Kenmare, Kilkenny)

Kerry Cliffs

Our first international trip of the year was to a destination that had topped Sam’s and my bucket list for years: Ireland! And even though our pre-trip expectations were super high, the Emerald Isle still managed to blow us away.

It’s hard to choose a highlight since the whole trip was incredible, but our favorite part was probably the coastal segment of the Ring of Kerry.

Further Reading: 5 Reasons You Should Visit Ireland in Winter

Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC

After Ireland we made a quick trip up to Greenville, SC, for a friend’s wedding. Since Sam and I both used to live in Greenville, we enjoyed catching up with old friends and revisiting some of our favorite haunts.

Also, we randomly met Harry Connick, Jr., which was pretty cool.

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

For the past few years, I have tagged along on Sam’s work trip to Savannah. With its Southern charm and delicious restaurants, I don’t think I could ever get sick of visiting Savannah. I’m still dreaming about the burgers from Green Truck Neighborhood Pub. Yummy!

Further Reading: Where to Eat in Savannah, GA

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Our second international trip of the year took us to a region neither of us had ever previously visited: Central America.

Though I admit I was a little nervous beforehand, our (much too brief) time in Nicaragua was fantastic. We enjoyed exploring colonial Granada, hiking a volcano, zipping through the rainforest, and chilling out at a volcanic crater lake.

Another highlight of our trip with missing our flight! That’s right. We volunteered our seat on our oversold flight and Delta compensated each of us with $1,700 airline credit.

Further Reading: What to Know Before Volunteering Your Airplane Seat

Portland, ME

Portland, ME Headlight

In June we headed up north to visit Sam’s brother and his wife in Portland, Maine. This was our second visit to Maine, and much more pleasant than our last visit during a February blizzard.

We enjoyed surfing and eating the best biscuits of our lives at Tandem.

Further Reading: A Weekend Guide to Portland, Maine

Tallulah Gorge, GA

Visiting Tallulah Gorge State Park

Sam and I try to take a camping trip every year, and this year we chose Tallulah Gorge State Park. The hiking and views were incredible, but camping in Georgia in July was not our wisest decision. After sweating buckets for two days, I’d never been so happy to return to our climate-controlled home! Note to self: never camp in July.

Further Reading: A Guide to Visiting Tallulah Gorge State Park in North Georgia

 Hiawassee, GA

Hiawassee, GA

Our next trip was a quick getaway to Hiawassee, GA, with my parents. The trip was super last-minute and laid-back, so we spent most of the time relaxing and enjoying the incredible views from the deck.

St. Augustine, FL

Saint Augustine Beach

I had never visited St. Augustine before (and Sam hadn’t since he was a kid), so we were both excited to spend several days in the oldest continuously inhabited city in the USA.

We especially enjoyed exploring Castillo de San Marcos. And the beach, of course.

Further Reading: A Weekend Guide to St. Augustine, FL

Destin, FL

Destin, FL

Every year we spend a long weekend at a beachfront condo in Destin, FL, with my family. The water is turquoise, the sand is fine and white, and I usually spend every waking moment plopped in my beach chair enjoying the sunshine.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Nate blew in after a day and a half and sent us home early this year.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam

Though Sam and I have passed through Schiphol airport on numerous occasions, this fall we were finally able to step outside the terminal and spend 24 hours exploring the beautiful city.

A major highlight of our time in Amsterdam was visiting the Anne Frank House.

Further Reading: How to Spend 24 Hours in Amsterdam

Belgium (Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp)

Belfort van Brugge

From Amsterdam we hopped on a train to Brussels to visit friends. For the rest of the week we used Brussels as a home base and took day trips to nearby cities.

Though we liked a lot about Belgium, the highlight was definitely our day trip to Bruges. From the canals to the quaint medieval buildings, visiting Bruges is like stepping into a fairy tale.

Further Reading: A Guide to Traveling Belgium by Train

South Africa (Kruger, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, George, Pretoria)

Table Mountain

Our last trip of the year was also our most epic: two weeks in South Africa! I have always wanted to go on an African safari, so our two days spotting the Big 5 in Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Kruger National Park were a dream come true for us.

Other trip highlights include hanging out with penguins at Boulders Beach, taking the cable car up Table Mountain in Cape Town, visiting Cape Point, cage diving with sharks in Gansbaai, and driving along the Garden Route.

Here is a recap of our year:

For more Maple & Maps travel videos, check out our Youtube channel.

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